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Ardelia Hall Collection – Wiesbaden
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These images from the "Ardelia Hall Collection" include administrative records, photographs of artworks, and property cards from the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point during the period 1945–52. The Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) Section recovered Nazi-looted works of art and artifacts from various storage areas and shipped the objects to one of four U.S. central collecting points, including Wiesbaden. In order to research restitution claims, MFAA officers gathered intelligence reports, interrogation reports, captured documents, and general information regarding German art looting. These images are digitized from 117 rolls of NARA microfilm publication M1947. The Wiesbaden records are part of the “Ardelia Hall Collection” in Records of United States Occupation Headquarters, World War II, Record Group (RG) 260.
Note: Much of the content on this page is taken from NARA's descriptive pamphlet for this title. Choose the following link to download a PDF version of the pamphlet: M1947, Records Concerning the Central Collecting Points (“Ardelia Hall Collection”): Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point, 1945–1952.
Look below under "Related resources" for links to archival descriptions in NARA's online Archival Research Catalog (ARC).
The basic authority for taking custody of property in Germany was contained in Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Directive 1067/6, which directed the U.S. Zone Commander to “impound or block” certain specified categories of property, including those of the German Reich; the Nazi Party and affiliated organizations and their prominent members; and absentee owners of non-German nationality, including United Nations and neutral governments and individuals. The American Zone Commander was also required to impound all property that was transferred under duress or through wrongful acts of confiscation, disposition, or spoliation, and to block the relocation of works of art and cultural material of value or importance, regardless of its ownership. When the U.S. Army entered Germany in September 1944, provisions were made for the seizure of all categories of property, including that of the Nazi Party organization.
At the cessation of hostilities in May 1945, a number of temporary collecting points were set up by the 12th Army Group to store all cultural objects found in the U.S. zone in need of preservation or suspected of having been looted by the Germans. The seized property was turned over to the custody of the Office of Military Government, U.S. Zone (Germany) [OMGUS] when it became the successor to the U.S. Group Control Council, Germany (USGCC) on October 1, 1945. OMGUS was responsible for administering the U.S. zone of occupation and U.S. sector of Berlin, and for functioning as the U.S. element of organizations comprising the Allied Control Authority, the name given to the four-power occupation control system.
Within OMGUS, the seized works of art eventually came under the control of the Property Division. The Property Division, established in March 1948, was created through reorganization of OMGUS functions related to finance, the economy, transport, communications, restitution, reparations, decartelization, and property control. The primary responsibility of the Property Division was to formulate and implement policies required in the fields of property control, German external assets, internal and external restitution, and reparations.
By 1946 only four of the collecting points remained and were located in Munich, Wiesbaden, Marburg, and Offenbach. After June 15, 1946, when the Marburg Central Collecting Point was closed, the remaining three central collecting points (CCPs) became specialized. The Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point (WCCP) held mostly German-owned material, especially that of the former Prussian State Museums, the Städel Institute of Frankfurt, and the local museums of Wiesbaden, plus a certain amount of internal loot (materials confiscated from German nationals) and objects subject to restitution. At its height, this installation contained approximately 700,000 objects. The Munich Central Collecting Point specialized largely in materials subject to restitution, although in addition it contained the cultural objects of the Bavarian State Museums. At its height, this central collecting point held in excess of a million objects. The third of the specialized CCPs, the Offenbach Archival Depot, was devoted primarily to Jewish religious items, books, and archives. It handled more than 21/2 million objects during its four years of operation.
The transition from military to civilian occupation administration was initiated by the Presidential appointment of the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany (HICOG), who assumed his duties on September 2, 1949. OMGUS organizations were progressively abolished, and all functions were transferred to HICOG organizations between June and September 1949. The Offenbach Archival Depot was closed in June 1949. Upon the termination of the Property Division on July 1, 1949, the property control functions with respect to the liquidation of claims devolved on the Central German Property Control Agency in Munich. Its directorate was composed of the four Land Civilian Agency Heads in the U.S. zone. The transition was completed by September 21, 1949, the same day of the establishment of the Federal Republic of Germany. OMGUS was formally abolished on December 5, 1949.
The Munich and Wiesbaden CCPs closed in August 1951, although some cultural objects remained at both facilities under U.S. control after that date. The Office of Public Affairs of the Office of the High Commissioner for Germany exercised residual restitution authority for these objects. Most of the OMGUS records, including those of the Property Division, were retired to an Army records center in Kansas City until they were accessioned into the National Archives in the early 1960s.
During the period in which they operated, the CCPs administered the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Sections of Bavaria, Bremen, Hesse, and Württemberg-Baden. They also received policy guidance from the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Section of OMGUS general headquarters. The composition of the records of the CCPs is unique among the records of OMGUS headquarters. The Offices of Military Government for Bavaria and Hesse created most of the records concerning the CCPs through their restitution and preservation programs from 1945 to 1949, but they also contain records of monuments and fine arts officers assigned to Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) and U.S. Forces, European Theater (USFET) Headquarters; records of Headquarters, Office of Military Government, U.S. Zone (Germany)[OMGUS]; records of the Office of the High Commissioner for Germany (HICOG); and some papers added to various files by the State Department’s Arts and Monuments Adviser, Ardelia Hall, while the records were on “loan” to her from 1954 to 1961. Because Ms. Hall worked extensively with these records, which were combined into one body, they are referred to as the “Ardelia Hall Collection.”
The records of the CCPs document the preservation of monuments and fine arts and the restitution of cultural objects by OMGUS and, much less adequately, the administration of the preservation and restitution program. A significant portion of this documentation is in German. In order to research restitution claims, monuments and fine arts officers gathered together intelligence reports, interrogation reports, captured documents, and other records concerning fine arts and monuments in Europe. These research files constitute a considerable portion of the records. Included among these records are reports and original documents detailing the looting operations of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), the involvement of Hermann Göring in the cultural looting, and plans for the proposed “Hitler Museum” in Linz, Austria.
The records reproduced here are in two formats: textual records and photographs as part of a scrapbook. The textual records consist of administrative files and monthly reports regarding the activities of the collecting point during its time of operation. The Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point also produced property cards to document the movement and disposition of looted objects. In order to produce the highest quality microfilm image, the property cards appear slightly larger than the originals for greater clarity and readability. Black-and-white photographs were stapled to the front or back of many of the property cards. The negatives to these photographs also were maintained separately but not included in this microfilm publication because of the condition of the film. Artwork classifications used on the property cards are listed in the appendix. The scrapbook depicts the collecting point’s activities during its time of operation.
This title is comprised of many different types of records. The code in brackets after the record type is the Master Location Register (MLR) entry number.
The textual records are organized in the following 15 series:
Correspondence, memorandums, reports, press clippings, and custody receipts. The most prominent subjects are art loans, art exhibitions, Jewish cultural objects, and monuments and fine arts policy planning. The records also include a draft monograph on war damage to German monuments (300 pages, 1950), records relating to the history of the Offenbach Archival Depot (1946–1947), and photographs of the Hungarian Crown of St. Stephen. This series is arranged alphabetically by subject or by type of record.
Correspondence, memorandums, reports, directives, organization charts, and other records relating to the general administration of the monuments and fine arts program. The administrative records also include invoices documenting ordinary purchases of the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point, records relating to personnel employed by the collecting point, records relating to both general policy on the regulation of art trade and to individual art dealers, and records relating to the development of U.S. monuments and fine art policy. This series is arranged alphabetically by subject or by type of record.
Shipment files, location registers, control cards, custody receipts, and other kinds of records documenting the custody and movement of cultural objects. A summary of incoming shipments and outgoing shipments of cultural objects, which includes the shipment number, the date received or shipped, the number of objects included, places of origin or destination, and other information concerning each shipment, is provided within this section under Central Collecting Point Stock-List. This volume serves as an index to the individual shipment folder files preceeding it.
Also included are some Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point inventory control records, such as location registers, property control cards, and custody receipts for cultural objects received by the collecting point. This series is arranged by type of record.
Correspondence, memorandums, and reports pertaining to restitution claims. Most of the records originated in the 1945–50 period, although some date as late as 1958, and most consist of individual claim case files, containing records relating to claims made by individuals, institutions, and countries for the return of looted art objects. The terms “external restitutions” and “internal restitutions” are used throughout the records. External restitutions pertained to the return of looted objects to other countries or to citizens or institutions of other countries, while internal restitutions concerned the return of looted objects to German citizens. The series is arranged alphabetically by country and thereunder by either miscellaneous claims, internal restitutions, and/or alphabetically by claimant.
Monthly and consolidated reports from monuments and fine arts offices in Land Hesse and Bavaria to higher headquarters, including reports on the status of the collecting points, consolidated summaries of monuments and fine arts activities, and district summaries of monuments and fine arts activities. This series is arranged alphabetically by subject and then chronologically by month or date.
Correspondence, reports, questionnaires, inventory lists, and photographs that describe the condition of monuments and the holdings of museums and archives throughout Hesse. This series also consists of extensive documentation on the Berlin State Museums (Staatliche Museen, Berlin). The records relating to the Berlin State Museums include inventory lists, reports on the wartime evacuation of the museum collections, the discovery of the different repositories by the U.S. and Allied authorities, the condition of the collections, and the movement and storage of the art and cultural objects within the various collections. This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.
Intelligence, interrogation, investigative reports, and captured documents relating to the following individuals who, either because of their profession or their status as Nazi officials, had knowledge of German wartime cultural looting activities:
- German Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring
- Wilhelm Ettle (art dealer)
- Gisela Limberger (Göring’s art librarian and secretary)
- Adolf Weinmuller (art dealer)
- Heinrich Hoffmann (Hitler’s art advisor and the official photographer of the Nazi Party)
- Ernst Büchner (Director General of Bavarian State Museums and an active advisor onofficial German art purchases)
- Walter Andreas Hofer (Director of the Göring Collection and Göring’s chief purchasing agent)
- Walter Bornheim (art dealer and Göring’s buyer in France)
- Hans Frank (Governor General of occupied Poland)
- Alfred Rosenberg (Nazi Party ideologue and director of the looting organization known as Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg)
- German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, Artur Seyss-Inquart (Reichskommissar of Holland)
- Walter Funk (Minister of Economics and President of the Reichsbank)
- Baldur von Schirach (Reich youth leader)
- Albert Speer (head of German war production)
Also included in this series are records relating to the German occupation of the Netherlands; the disposition of German assets in Italy; the German evacuation of cultural objects from Berlin during the war; the German seizure of works of art in Poland; the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg; the early development of the Nazi Party in the Berchtesgaden area (dating back to 1920); guidebooks on points of cultural interest in Germany, France, and the Low Countries (dating back to 1899); and other publications. This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.
Summary lists of property shipments received at the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point. This series also includes types of properties shipped, repository from which the property was shipped, and the disposition of the property.
The remaining seven series are all 5- by 8-inch property control cards.
Function as an incomplete listing of the WCCP accession numbers. Although each card may include information such as the measurements of the artwork, artwork classification, identifying marks, history and ownership, condition and repair record, central collecting point accession number, destination, date of arrival to the collecting point, and disposition of each cultural object, many of the cards only contain shipment information and artwork classification. In some cases, a photograph of the artwork is attached to the card. This series is arranged numerically by Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point accession number (1–6672, with gaps). See the appendix for a listing of artwork classifications.
Indicate to which country the Nazi-looted cultural objects were restituted. Each card may list the measurements of the artwork, artwork classification, identifying marks, history and ownership, condition and repair record, central collecting point accession number, date of arrival to the collecting point, destination, exit date, and disposition of each cultural object. In some cases, a photograph of the artwork is attached to the card. This series is arranged alphabetically by the name of the country to where objects were sent and thereunder by Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point accession number, with gaps. See the appendix for a listing of artwork classifications.
Serve as the primary method to locate cultural objects housed at the WCCP. Each card may list the measurements of the artwork, artwork classification, identifying marks, history and ownership, condition and repair record, central collecting point accession number, and date of arrival to the collecting point of each cultural object. In some cases, a photograph of the artwork is attached to the card. This series is arranged alphabetically by artwork classification and thereunder by Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point accession number, with gaps. See the appendix for a listing of artwork classifications.
Indicate what artwork was released to the following institutions or localities: Berlin, Darmstadt, Dorotheum in Vienna, Geislingen, Hamburg, Heylshof Stiftung, Karlsruhe, Mainz, Mannheim, Munich, and Wiesbaden. Each card may list the measurements of the artwork, artwork classification, identifying marks, history and ownership, condition and repair record, central collecting point accession number, date of arrival to the collecting point, and exit date of each cultural object. In some cases, a photograph of the artwork is attached to the card. This series is arranged alphabetically by institution or locality to which the property was released and thereunder numerically by Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point accession number, with gaps. See the appendix for a listing of artwork classifications.
These cards pertain to cultural objects that were returned to various private owners in Germany. Each card may list the measurements of the artwork, artwork classification, identifying marks, history and ownership, condition and repair record, central collecting point accession number, date of arrival to the collecting point, and exit date of each cultural object. In some cases, a photograph of the artwork is attached to the card. This series is arranged alphabetically by name of the private owner. See the appendix for a listing of artwork classifications.
Indicate transfers to the custody of the following: the Bavarian Minister President, the West German Federal Government, Gemälde Galerie in Wiesbaden, the Hessian Minister President, the JRSO (Jewish Restitution Successor Organization) in Nürnberg, HICOG, the former Sächsische Landesbibliothek, the Staatliche Museen in Berlin, the Staats Galerie in Stuttgart, the Munich CCP, and the Treuhänder Deutsche Reichsbank in Hesse. Each card may list the measurements of the artwork, artwork classification, identifying marks, history and ownership, condition and repair record, central collecting point accession number, date of arrival to the collecting point, exit date, in-shipment number, out-shipment number, and transfer destination of each cultural object. In some cases, a photograph of the artwork is attached to the card. This series is arranged by destination of transfer. See the appendix for a listing of artwork classifications.
Indicate whether the artwork was to be sent to Washington, DC, or to be destroyed. The cards may list the measurements of the artwork, artwork classification, identifying marks, history and ownership, condition and repair record, central collecting point accession number, date of arrival to the collecting point, destination, exit date, and disposition of each cultural object. In some cases, a photograph of the artwork is attached to the card. This series is arranged by final disposition and thereunder by Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point accession number, with gaps. See the appendix for a listing of artwork classifications.
Photographs of Activities and Exhibits at the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point, 1946–1947 [260-WAE], consists of a scrapbook that records the activities and exhibits in which the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point was involved immediately after World War II. Subjects found in this series include the preparation of paintings for shipment to their owners; the return of paintings to Germany from the United States; and views of the complex in Wiesbaden that held the Gemälde Gallery, Archaeological Museum, and Natural History Museum. This complex contained space for storage of recovered artworks, inventorying items, conservation work and photography of the artworks, and exhibits. Other subjects include views of natural history specimens and cultural objects such as menorahs and ceramics, and employees of the complex including carpenters, conservators, electricians, photographers, and secretaries shown engaged in their work. There are also views of various exhibits held at the Wiesbaden complex, with notes indicating personnel of the CCP or noted visitors. Among these are Capt. Walter I. Farmer, Specialist Officer of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Section (MFAA) of OMGUS, who was in charge of the Wiesbaden CCP; Prince Ludwig of Hesse; U.S. and German generals; Dutch and French representatives of the MFAA; and German schoolchildren visiting an exhibit. The scrapbook contained loose photographs that allowed both the front and back sides to be filmed since the backs included captions. If the photograph was not loose, it was not detached, and those are noted as “back of photograph not filmed.” Negatives for some of these prints in the scrapbook may be located in Record Group 260, Series WL. This series is arranged numerically by item number.
Recovery of Holocaust-era Assets pages on the NARA website: www.archives.gov/research/arc/topics/holocaust
Holocaust-Era Assets: A Finding Aid to Records at the National Archives at College Park, compiled by Greg Bradsher, includes many resources in its bibliography. www.archives.gov/research/holocaust/finding-aid
If you wish to view the archival descriptions in NARA's online Archival Research Catalog (ARC), follow the links here:
- General Records, compiled 1945 - 1952, ARC Identifier 2431774.
- Administrative Records, compiled 1944 - 1951, ARC Identifier 2435799.
- Cultural Object Movement and Control Records, compiled 1945 - 1952, ARC Identifier 2435801.
- Restitution Claim Records, compiled 1945 - 1952, ARC Identifier 2435803.
- Activity Reports, compiled 1945 - 1951, ARC Identifier 2435804.
- Records Relating to the Status of Monuments, Museums, and Archives, compiled 1945 - 1950, ARC Identifier 2435815.
- Restitution, Research, and Reference Records, compiled 1945 - 1954, documenting the period 1899 - 1954, ARC Identifier 2465154.
- Directory of Property Received, compiled 1945 - 1949, ARC Identifier 2431567.
- Property Card Index, compiled ca. 1945 - ca. 1949, ARC Identifier 2431623.
- Records Relating to Restitution, compiled 1945 - 1951, ARC Identifier 2431624.
- Records Relating to Property Accessions, compiled 1945 - 1949, ARC Identifier 2431627.
- Records Relating to Property Releases, compiled 1949 - 1951, ARC Identifier 2431628.
- Records Relating to Releases to German Private Owners, compiled 1945 - 1950, ARC Identifier 2431629.
- Records Relating to Property Transfers, compiled 1945 - 1948, ARC Identifier 2431631.
- Nazistic and Militaristic Property Transfer Records, compiled ca. 1945 - ca. 1950, ARC Identifier 2431632.
- Photographs of Activities and Exhibits at the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point, compiled 1946 - 1947, ARC Identifier 541614.
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These images are scanned from 117 rolls of microfilm that make up NARA publication M1947, Records Concerning the Central Collecting Points ("Ardelia Hall Collection"): Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point, 1945-1952, within Record Group (RG) 260, Records of U.S. Occupation Headquarters, World War II.